Samsung has given up on Blu-ray—at least in the U.S., where it has given up on producing new models of Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players, CNET reported on Friday.
A prior report in Forbes suggested that Samsung was only planning on discontinuing the 4K players and would continue to release new 1080p devices, though the company confirmed in a statement to CNET that it is no longer releasing either. A 4k model planned for release this year will also never see the light of day, CNET wrote:
“Samsung will no longer introduce new Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray player models in the US market,” a Samsung spokesperson told CNET.
Samsung launched its last 4K players in 2017 and didn’t add any new models to its lineup in 2018. A high-end 4K player for 2019 along the lines of its UBD-M9500 was in the works, a Forbes report says, but has now been scrapped.
This is not entirely surprising. The 4K UHD Blu-ray market is growing fast, but disc sales in general fell by double digits (11.5 per cent in Q3 2018, per Variety) and the growth of streaming may have left the format without much of a future. Last year, competitor Oppo also dropped out of the Blu-ray market. As Engadget noted, the Digital Entertainment Group said that 2.3 million devices capable of playing 4K Blu-rays were purchased in the U.S. in the first nine months of 2018, “but those included game consoles that might never play a disc-based movie.”
Meanwhile, subscription video services reach many times that number of households (Netflix alone is in the 150 million range). It seems like there is a significant number of consumers who don’t think they need an expensive Blu-ray player to enjoy movies (as Forbes noted, well over half of disc sales are still DVDs). Additionally, Samsung’s devices didn’t support Dolby Vision, just HDR10 and HDR10+, further limiting their appeal to a subset of the Blu-ray market.
In any case, Blu-rays are not quite going the way of the dinosaur yet—indeed, they remain the best way for home viewing as close to movie-theatre quality as possible—but they are being undercut by the rise of streaming. CNET noted that Samsung’s competitors aren’t giving up yet, with both Sony planning a new launch this year and Panasonic having just launched DP-UB9000 player in foreign markets.